With June rapidly approaching, most NFL fans are simply disgusted with the ongoing labor dispute between the NFL owners and the former NFL Player's Association (NFLPA). The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments from both sides in the first week of June, but is not likely to make a formal ruling into July. The Court's first action was to grant a permanent stay of the NFL owner's lockout a few weeks ago. This ruling signaled that the Court favored the NFL and was accompanied with a strongly worded rebuttal of the Federal district court's decision that sided with the NFLPA. If the 8th Circuit rules with the NFL, the lockout will remain in effect and will force both parties back to the negotiating table. It is appearing more and more likely that the NFL will miss preseason and possibly even regular season games.
Strictly on principles alone, I favor the NFL owners in this dispute. My rationale is what have you done for me lately. The NFL owners can give back to the fans if they earn additional revenue. In the last few years, the NFL has started their own television network, launched a revolutionary TV program called NFL Redzone which allows viewers to watch highlights of every game, and built new stadiums. When Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, earned additional revenue, he turned it into sport's greatest stadium; maximizing seating, introduced the world's largest jumbotron, and vastly increased the NFL fan's gameday experience. The San Francisco 49ers are in desperate need of a new stadium and can build one with additional revenue. If the NFL players receive an extra slice of the financial pie, what will they do for the fans? They are likely to spend their money on bigger mansions, faster cars, or maybe even throw their money in the air at a gentlemen's club (i.e. Pacman Jones). Sure, there are some players that spend wisely and donate heavily to charities. The majority blow their money on jewelery, cars, boats, etc. How else can you explain players like Mark Brunell ,who has earned over $50 million in his career, filing for bankruptcy? Or Charlie Batch having to sell his Super Bowl ring to cover expenses?
The NFL has given in to all the players extracurricular demands such as health benefits for life for retired players, a guarantted payout of up to $1 million dollars for the players in a contract year after a major injury, an $82 million dollar pool for retired players' benefits, reducing the physical demands of the offseason by shortening the OTAs and other events, and delaying a decision on an 18-game season, But, lets be honest here, the NFLPA was only ever interested in the money. These demands were only laid on the table as bargaining chips, to give the public the perception that they were willing to bend on supposedly key issues to get a deal done. My favoritism towards the NFL owners only becomes easier as star players such as Adrian Peterson and Rashard Mendenhall compare the player's lives to modern day slavery. Or when a Chiefs player suggested establishing an emergency fund for players struggling with finances. To my knowledge, the minimum salary for the NFL benchwarmer is over $350,000 per year. That is 4-5 times what I have earn on an annual basis! If the players are struggling financially they have only themselves to blame and are too inept to keep their financial house in order. The NFLPA also didn't earn any points when they demanded the NFL owner's open their financial books for review. Down here in the normal world, if an employee asks their boss to open up the finance books, it would be followed by a laugh and/or a pink slip. Even the NFL owner's do not have access to other team's income statements and balance sheets.
As if this offseason isn't enough to sour your opinion of the NFL, I have three negative predictions for the upcoming season: 1) The quality of football will be the worst in recent memory. The teams with new coaching staffs or quarterbacks will be downright awful without the time to learn/install a new offensive and defensive schemes, develop chemistry between skilled players, and condition their bodies for the rigors of a season. 2) A devastating increase in major injuries. Despire the players working out on their own, they are not getting assistance from medical trainers and professionals as they are accustomed to. Without a full offseason to get their bodies ready for the season, major injuries will be on the rise, which will ultimately hurt the quality of the game as star players watch from the sidelines. 3) The greatest disparity between good and bad teams in the history of the game. Unless the lockout is resolved soon, the average teams will be bad next year, and the bad teams will be even worse. Teams like the San Francisco 49ers, Carolina Panthers, and Minnesota Vikings that have had significant turnover in the offseason will be at a huge disadvantage. Teams with relatively no changes, like the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers will not be affected that much by the lockout. This will lead to more blowouts and laughers than ever before.
Regardless of your position on the lockout, prepare yourself for a forgettable season, if there is one to begin with.